Dodgers Highlights: Zach McKinstry’s Home Run Vs. Nationals

Much was made about the versatility the Los Angeles Dodgers lost when Kiké Hernandez signed with the Boston Red Sox, but thus far Zach McKinstry has filled the void well.

McKinstry’s role was expanded over the weekend as the Dodgers remained without Mookie Betts due to lower back stiffness. McKinstry started in right field in the home opener and the following night, then played left field in the series finale against the Washington Nationals.

On day that was headlined by future Hall of Famers Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer, the spotlight was additionally shared with McKinstry.

He broke a scoreless tie in the second inning with a sun double that scored Max Muncy from first base, and later hit a two-run home run to provide insurance late. The homer was McKinstry’s second of his career, but first to clear the fence.

“Yeah, it was nice. Definitely awesome when you get to jog the bases instead of having to run them,” McKinstry said.

He garnered praise from fellow utility player Chris Taylor after Saturday’s win, and drew more following the Dodgers’ sweep of the Nationals.

“You never want to see a couple of your star players miss time, but it does give guys a runway,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said. “Zach earned his way on our roster, so for him to get a little bit of a runway and perform is certainly a good thing for all of us.”

Kershaw’s scoreless work

The pitching matchup of Kershaw and Scherzer lived up to expectations as both went six innings. Scherzer gave up the one run on McKinstry’s double, while Kershaw scattered five hits and kept the Nationals off the board.

Their best opportunity came in the top of the sixth when Trea Turner reached on a bunt single and quickly moved into scoring position when a pitch got away from Austin Barnes. Kershaw struck out Juan Soto, retired Ryan Zimmerman, then got Jordy Mercer swinging.

“I think at times I was able to clip the pitches the way I wanted to,” Kershaw said of his outing. “I think I was a little bit inconsistent with my command, falling behind guys and things like that.

“But I was able to make enough pitches when I needed to get out of things and get some outs. They have a lot of guys over there that hit me pretty well, so it was good to get out of this with a win.”

Since laboring on Opening Day, the left-hander has allowed just one run and collected 14 strikeouts over 13 innings in his last two starts.

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